Monday, 13 March 2017

Could this be the Turning Point for Women’s Football



The Hong Kong Women’s Senior team beat Singapore yesterday in an international friendly match at Tseung Kwan O Sports Ground. The 2-0 winning score line does not reflect the brilliance and dominance of the Hong Kong team. I am serious when I say that it was one of the best team performances I have seen in my time in Hong Kong. If it hadn’t been for the athleticism of their goal keeper, the woodwork and a dubious off-side decision the score would have been at least 5-0, and it would have been deserved.

From start to finish the Hong Kong team played with composure, skill and confidence. The passing was accurate, the movement off the ball excellent and the style of system of play consistent and effective. As well as the great teamwork, what impressed me most is the level of improvement in both individual skill and the physical fitness of the players. It is clear that there has been a lot of work done. I am so pleased that the passion and hard commitment has paid off. I told the coaches and players after the match that they should be proud of themselves. Hong Kong should be proud too.

There was a good crowd to witness the match which was fantastic and I could tell from the reaction that they were as impressed as I was. The support for women’s football in Hong Kong is getting stronger all the time.

The HKFA is committed to girls and women’s football and I personally think it is equally important to boys and men’s football. There is huge potential here and although we are starting from a low base, our Women’s Football Manager, Betty and Head Coach, Chi together with the other coaches and the players have done a brilliant job in developing both the grass roots and high performance football.

In the past girls and women’s football in Hong Kong has not really been taken seriously and they have often been given the worst pitches to train on at the worst times and in the worst places. In spite of that their commitment and drive has never wavered. Yesterday perhaps gave a glimpse into the future. Women’s football is often described as the fastest growing sport in the world. It is time Hong Kong capitalized on this demand and interest.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to women’s football development and thank you in particular to those involved yesterday. You gave me memories that will stay with me forever. It was an amazing performance.



Mark Sutcliffe CEO, March 2017    



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女子足球的契機?


香港女子足球代表隊昨日於將軍澳運動場舉行之國際友誼賽中以2-0擊敗新加坡,事實上最終之比分不能完全反映球隊於整場賽事的出色表現及壓倒性優勢,她們的表現亦是我來香港之後看過的最好之一。倘若不是對方守門員的優異演出又或者龍門框的阻撓以及值得商榷的越位判決,或許最終比分差距會是5球或以上。

由鳴笛開賽一刻起直至完場為止,隊員在場上都展現出信心、技術及沉著,無論傳送、走位、戰術、團隊合作及默契等都充滿效率而且表現出色,而個人技術以及體能上的進步及提升更令我印象深刻。顯然地這是努力的成果,我亦為他們的熱誠及付出感到欣慰。賽後,我跟教練及一眾球員說道她們應為自己感到自豪,而香港人亦應為她們感到驕傲。

香港球迷對女足的支持度正日漸提升,昨天一同欣賞賽事及見證港隊勝利的過千名購票入場的現場觀眾,應該與我一樣對她們留下深刻印象。

除了男子足球外,香港足球總會一直致力發展本地女足,因為我們很清楚當中蘊藏著的巨大潛力。女子足球經理黃若玲 (Betty) 、女子代表隊主教練陳淑芝連同一眾教練及球員對於本地女子草根及高效足球的發展實在功不可沒。

女子足球於過去時常被忽略,不時獲分配最差的訓練時間、地區及場地,但她們對足球的堅持從未被動搖,昨天的賽事或許正是未來的契機。女子足球被譽為現今體壇發展最迅速的運動之一,香港亦是時候把握這個機遇了。

感謝所有為香港女子足球發展出一分力以及於昨天一同參與及見證賽事的每一位,我會永遠記得這場賽事以及一眾女將出色的表現。


香港足球總會行政總裁薛基輔

一七年三月

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A Lot to Play For

It looks like it might go down to the wire!

Rivalry is a great thing in sport. Think Liverpool v Manchester United, Barcelona v Real Madrid, Borg v McEnroe, Prost v Senna, Coe v Ovett, Ali v Foreman, Fischer v Spassky etc etc, the list is endless. The point is, rivalry makes sport much more thrilling and exciting. No-one wants to see one team totally dominant like Celtic; currently 27 points clear at the top of the current Scottish Premiership.

The emerging sporting rivalry between Eastern and Kitchee is becoming more acute and therefore more intriguing and compelling. Earlier this season Kitchee gained some bragging rights by beating Eastern in the final of the HK Senior Shield. A lively crowd of over 6,200 reflected the intensity and increasing significance of the match-up.

At the time of writing, things are close at the top of the 2016/17 BOC Life Hong Kong Premier League, very close in fact. Eastern are 6 points ahead but Kitchee has a game in hand and arguably the easier run in. I think it could go down to the wire and by that I mean the very last game of the season on 6th May. They are playing each other in that match and it is a mouth-watering prospect – potentially a winner takes all scenario.

Being crowned Champions and picking up the winners cheque together with getting one over on a close rival is prize enough, but this year there is even more at stake. The winner of the 2016/17 BOC Life HKPL will in all probability gain an automatic entry into the group stage of the 2018 AFC Champions League (subject to our AFC ranking when places are allocated). Ironically, Eastern’s participation in the CL group stage this season makes their domestic title aspirations a little more difficult because the CL games come thick and fast. As we have seen already they are physically and mentally draining encounters. Playing more often at a higher level can only be good for Hong Kong football in the long term but will this make the difference in this season’s title run in? Only time will tell.

I would not like to bet on the outcome of the 2016/17 BOC Life HKPL right now and there are bound to be twists and turns in fortune between now and the end of the season. As far as I am concerned the rivalry between these two top teams can only be good for Hong Kong football. May the best team win!


Mark Sutcliffe CEO, March 2017

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宿敵之爭

季尾自有分曉

體壇一直以來不乏宿敵的存在。正如利物浦與曼聯、巴塞隆拿與皇家馬德里、波格與麥根萊 (網球)、保魯斯與冼拿 (賽車)、科伊與奧韋特 (跑步)、阿里與福爾曼 (拳擊) FischerSpassky (國際象棋)等等。宿敵之間的較量令運動變得更刺激及引人入勝,沒多少人會對壟斷的情況感太大興趣,就好像蘇格蘭超級聯賽暫時於榜首以27分遙遙領先的些路迪一樣。

至於港超聯方面,東方龍獅與傑志之間的宿敵關係越見明顯,令賽事更具吸引力及話題性。超過6,200名球迷入場見證傑志於較早前的高級組銀牌決賽中擊敗宿敵奪冠,更證明球迷對兩隊之間比拼的關注度日漸提升。

目前,兩隊正於中銀人壽香港超級聯賽榜的前列位置中鬥得難分難解,東方龍獅暫時多打一場的情況下以6分的差距領先傑志,結果大有可能於56日的本球季最後一輪賽事才有分曉,屆時兩隊將會碰頭為冠軍寶座而戰。

擊敗宿敵奪冠封王的一方除可獲獎金外,更將以201617年度港超聯冠軍身份自動晉身至2018亞冠盃分組賽 (根據先前決定參賽名額時之香港於亞足聯的排名而定)。諷刺的是,現時正在出戰亞冠盃分組賽的東方龍獅正因為頻密的賽程與強烈的比賽強度,令到要分身兼顧本地聯賽增添不少難度,從對上兩場的亞冠盃賽事更讓我們體會到亞冠盃對體能上及心理上的要求及消耗。於高水平賽事中參賽一方面可令香港足球發展獲益良多,但另一方面會否令本季之港超聯的冠軍爭奪帶來變數?季尾自有分曉。

港超聯由這一刻起直至季尾仍存在不少變數,實在難以估計今季冠軍鹿死誰手。但我相信兩隊宿敵之間的較量對香港足球來說絕對是一件好事。祝願表現最好的一方可成為最後的大贏家。


香港足球總會行政總裁薛基輔

一七年三月

Thursday, 2 March 2017

No Pain, No Gain


I am proud that a team from Hong Kong is playing in the group stage of the AFC Champions League. Also let’s not forget that we almost had two teams competing, following Kitchee’s brave performance in the qualification phase.

Playing at this level marks real progress and is a stepping stone to where we want to be (one of the top countries in East Asia) but make no mistake the step up in terms of quality and intensity of football is huge. The difference between the HKPL/AFC Cup level and the AFC CL is a gulf.

This was exemplified perfectly by Eastern’s recent baptism of fire against Guangzhou Evergrande away from home. As I sat in the stand watching as the players walked out before the match, the adrenaline was flowing, I wondered what it must be like to play in front of 38,000 people and in such a hostile atmosphere. I was joyful and hopeful at the thought of a Hong Kong team competing at that level but also fearful for what could lie ahead. After all, Eastern were up against a team reputedly worth US$400m, who are serial winners of the CSL, have a World Cup winning Coach and are previous winners of the competition. David v Goliath was a much more evenly matched contest by comparison.

Almost immediately after the kickoff my fear turned to dread. Seldom have I seen a dream unravel so quickly. From where I was sat the sending off was harsh but it became apparent that it was going to be a long hard night. I was just thinking that things couldn’t get any worse when the second player was sent off for a second bookable offence. The game was effectively over and ‘damage limitation’ became the only viable game plan. Symbolically it then started raining heavily and because I wasn’t under cover I got soaked. I refused to let my mood become as black as the sky because I kept reminding myself that a team from Hong Kong was out there on the pitch competing at the highest level in Asia. I felt warm inside.

9 v 11 was never going to be easy especially when playing against better players who are on a HK$3m bonus per goal! (Ultimately the bonus pot was larger than Eastern’s budget for the whole season). I think the team did well to keep the score down to 7-0 with the goalkeeper again making some great saves, including one from the penalty spot. He was arguably the ‘man of the match’.

What impressed me most was the attitude of the coach and players in defeat. That is the true mark of quality. Their heads were held high and they vowed to use it as a learning experience.

Last night playing at home to Mong Kok against Kawasaki Frontale provided evidence of this good team spirit and also that Hong Kong clubs deserve their place in this competition. Eastern created a chance in the first 30 seconds and came out confident, positive and fast. The capacity crowd made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. This is what it’s all about! Passion, noise, intensity – I love it and so do the people of Hong Kong. Champions League football was one of my goals when I came here and collectively we have achieved it.





Eastern played well and to their credit rather than being traumatized by their experience in Guangzhou, they seemed galvanized and determined. The reality is they could have won. Granted they had a man advantage for most of the match but let’s not forget that the team from Japan have much more experience and are arguably man for man better players – for now.

What impressed me most was that immediately after the game I went to congratulate the coach on gaining the first ever point for a Hong Kong team in the Champions League. She looked at me and said ‘We should have had three’. Great attitude and it augurs well for the future.

There will be more tough nights ahead in this campaign and hopefully in future competitions too. There is truth in the old adage ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ or to put it another way…no pain, no gain.


Mark Sutcliffe CEO, March 2017


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一分耕耘 一分收穫


我為有一支香港球隊於亞冠分組賽內競逐而感到驕傲,而事實上傑志於外圍賽的精彩表現令香港差點便有兩支球隊同時躋身分組賽階段。

這亦正正標誌著我們於足球發展路上的進程以及目標 (成為東亞地區最高足球水平之一)。當然,要一步登天到達亞冠的水準及強度是極具難度的,而港超聯或亞協盃本身之水平與亞冠亦存在非常大的距離。

這亦可從上月東方作客廣州恆大之賽事中反映出來。比賽當日坐於看台的我看著球員於開賽前步出球場的一幕時感到熱血沸騰,不斷想像球員於38,000名觀眾前以及作客的惡劣氣氛下作賽會是何等感受。當時我對香港球隊終可於高水平之賽事上競賽感到喜悅以及充滿希望的,但同時亦憂慮賽事之進程及結果。畢竟,東方正與一支據說總值超過4億美元、於中超連年稱霸、由世界盃冠軍教頭領軍並曾經奪得亞冠殊榮的球隊對賽,如要形容雙方之差距,最貼切的莫過於「大衛對巨人」了。

開賽不久後我的憂慮隨即變成事實。從我的位置上觀看,該紅牌判罰似乎略嚴,這亦令比賽變得更艱難,而第二面紅牌的出現更是雪上加霜。當時那一刻結果彷如已成定局一般,而唯一可做的似乎是盡量減少失球。那時剛巧開始下起傾盆大雨,而坐在沒有遮蓋位置的我亦全身濕透,不過當我想起球場上正有一支香港球隊仍在於亞洲最高水平之比賽中拼盡作賽時,我不但沒讓自己的心情變得如天色般陰沉,反而感到溫暖。

足球場上911從來不容易,更何況對手是一支實力更強橫的球隊,並為著每一球淨得球可獲得港幣300萬的獎金而戰。我認為東方已盡全力將失球減至7球,而守門員葉鴻輝亦再次多次作出漂亮撲救,包括一記12碼,我認為他值得當選全場最佳球員。

最令我印象深刻的是教練及球員於落敗時的正面態度,昂首地視之為珍貴的學習經驗。

昨晚返回旺角大球場主場迎戰川崎前鋒的比賽,正好體現這良好的團體精神,亦再次證明香港球會足以立足於這項賽事之中。東方出場時充滿自信及積極態度,甫開賽30秒已製造了埋門機會,全場爆滿的氣氛及聲勢更是無法比擬的。激情、吶喊打氣聲、緊張程度,這正正是我以及香港人所喜愛的!亞冠是當初我到這裡的目標,而憑著各方的努力及付出,我們終於做到了!



東方並沒有受第一場於廣州時的落敗所打擊,反而變得更堅定及充滿鬥志。事實上他們差點就能取得勝利,姑勿論於比賽大部分時間多踢一人,對手川崎前鋒畢竟是一支經驗更豐富、球員質素更勝一籌的球隊。

令我印象最深刻的是,完場後我立即上前恭喜主教練陳婉婷獲得香港球隊於亞冠賽事中歷史性的第一分,她答道:「我們應可全取三分的。」她的積極態度令未來充滿憧憬。

分組賽尚未完結,而多場更困難及充滿挑戰性的比賽將接踵而來。正如老生常談的一句說話,「一分耕耘,一分收穫」。


香港足球總會行政總裁薛基輔
一七年三月

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

When the Going Gets Tough!

I would say that we had a ‘dream’ draw in the World Cup Qualifiers. Some would say that we have been given a ‘nightmare’ draw in the Asian Cup Qualifiers. Certainly I don’t think any of the teams we have drawn (DPR Korea, Lebanon and Malaysia) would have been our first choice in their respective pots. Travelling to DPR Korea and Lebanon will be difficult and the opponents will be tough. Malaysia are no pushovers either as we know from experience. All four teams will fancy their chances of getting to the finals, especially DPR Korea who clearly start as favourites to win the group. The DPR Korea Head Coach has the distinct advantage of working with his players on a full time basis.

We got a flying start in the World Cup qualifiers and this gave us momentum in the competition. This time we have Lebanon away first up (March) followed by DPR Korea at home (June), neither of these will be easy fixtures to say the least. We’re going to have to be at our best to get results from these games.

Right, that’s enough negativity. The draw has been made, we know the magnitude of the task and qualifying for the finals (UAE 2019) remains our goal. I know we can do it. So we start the hard work, right here, right now. I have already communicated with Coach KIM and when he returns tomorrow we will plan our strategy. All of the qualification matches fall at the end of each 10 day FIFA match-day period so we can arrange some friendly fixtures and training camps to enable us to prepare properly.

We have a great team spirit and work ethic and everyone will fight for Hong Kong. The whole team is determined and passionate. Furthermore, I know our loyal fans will give their support and this means a lot to the coaches and players in particular.

If and hopefully, when we qualify, we will know that we have done it the hard way rather than relying on an easy draw. As the saying goes….when the going gets tough, the tough gets going! Go Hong Kong


Mark Sutcliffe CEO, January 2017